Bhubaneswar, April 10: With polling having picked up for the 10 Lok Sabha and 70 assembly seats in the first phase of voting in Odisha Thursday, 58 percent of the electorate cast their ballots till 4 p.m., an official said.
“Information received by 4.00 p.m. relating to polling percentage in the state is 58 percent,” an official from the chief electoral officer’s office here told IANS.
Voting was peaceful across the state except for some incidents in Maoist-hit Malkangiri and Koraput districts.
Unidentified people set fire to a truck carrying electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Mathili area of Malkangiri district Wednesday night. As a result, voting could not take place at four polling stations, Superintendent of Police Akhileshwar Singh told IANS.
Similarly, in nearby Koraput district, an EVM was snatched from a booth in Pujaripat village.
There were long queues at many polling centres even before voting started at 7 a.m. Thursday.
Over 13 million people were eligible to cast their votes in the first phase of Lok Sabha election in the state. Polling for the remaining 11 Lok Sabha and 77 assembly seats would be held in the second phase April 17.
There are a total of 28,880,850 voters in the state.
Security was tight and paramilitary personnel and police were deployed in vulnerable areas to ensure trouble-free polling.
Defying the boycott call given by the Maoists and braving scorching heat, people came out to exercise their franchise in the southern districts of Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Kandhamal.
“People exercised their franchise in large numbers defying Maoist propaganda. High turnout of 50 to 60 percent has been reported in Maoist-hit areas,” Inspector General of Police (South Western Range) Yaswant Jethwa told IANS.
Prominent candidates in the first phase are Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and two former chief ministers and senior Congress leaders Giridhar Gomang and Hemananda Biswal.
State Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patro, former union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jual Oram, state BJP president K.V. Singh Deo and Congress leader Narasingh Mishra are also in the fray.